Coparenting, Marital quality, and children's adjustment in mainland China

Date

2016-12-07

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Abstract

There is a growing body of literature about coparenting and family outcomes in the Western countries. However, little is known about these domains under Chinese context. The goal of this study is to examine the association among Chinese couples’ marital quality, coparenting, and preschoolers’ adjustment. Using Actor-Partner Interdependence Model (APIM), this study (1) examines whether husbands and wives’ marital quality is linked to coparenting; (2) tests the association between coparenting and preschoolers’ adjustment; and (3) explores whether partners’ gender ideologies are linked to their coparenting. Data were collected from one large public kindergarten in the northern region of Mainland China. The sample for the study included 153 heterosexual married couples (306 individuals) and nine teachers. Overall, the study highlighted the importance of one’s own self report of marital quality on their own coparenting quality. This research also increased attention to the partner in coparenting research and indeed identified one partner effect from mothers’ marital quality to fathers’ level of coparenting. Furthermore, couples’ coparenting is significantly associated with children’s social adjustment in our Chinese sample. Specifically, mothers’ positive coparenting is negatively related to children’s problem behaviors and positively related to social competence, while fathers’ coparenting is only related to social competence. These findings suggest that mothers' perceptions of coparenting are more strongly associated with children's wellbeing. The findings also highlight the importance of exploring gender ideology, in addition to marital quality, to understand how interpersonal dynamic are associated with coparenting. Individuals' with less traditional gender ideologies reported greater quality coparenting and a partner effect was also found between fathers’ gender ideology to mothers’ coparenting. In the future, extending these finding longitudinally and exploring the mediators would pinpoint developmental and mechanism among constructs of relationship quality, coparenting, and child’s social development.

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Keywords

Children’s adjustment, China, Coparenting, Marital quality

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